Congress is warning U.S. military leaders they can expect further
large-scale reductions in military spending in the coming years, as
Washington deals with record levels of government debt.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said Tuesday that the
Pentagon will likely have to go beyond the currently proposed $487
billion in cuts in defense spending over the next decade.
“Given the fiscal crisis that we confront, we’re going to have to find
more savings in the core defense budget. We can’t rely solely on
declining war costs for savings, and we need to ensure that every dollar
going to defense is essential for promoting the country’s national
In what was at times an emotional exchange, Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta told Conrad that any further reduction in defense spending would
affect the U.S. military’s ability to respond to future threats.
“Make no mistake, there is no way I can reduce the defense budget by
half a trillion dollars and not have an impact on all 50 states. That’s
a reality. In addition to that, I can’t reduce the budget by half a
trillion dollars and, frankly, not increase risks.”
The Obama administration is requesting $525 billion for the 2013 defense
budget. That is $6 billion less than the request for the current fiscal
year, which ends September 30.
However, additional automatic cuts, totaling more than $500 billion, may
be on the horizon unless Congress can agree to additional spending
reductions. Panetta and other defense officials warned that those cuts
would be devastating to the U.S. military.